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Avoidant Personality Disorder and Addiction

Avoidant Personality Disorder and AddictionHaving avoidant personality disorder can have a devastating effect on virtually all aspects of a person’s life and greatly increases his or her risk of abusing and becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol.

What Is Avoidant Personality Disorder?

Avoidant personality disorder is a condition in which a person feels inadequate and as a result tends to be very shy and sensitive to criticism and rejection. People with avoidant personality disorder have a tremendous fear of rejection and often prefer to be alone, risking human interaction only when they are confident that they will not be rejected.

Avoidant personality disorder is more serious than merely being shy; the shyness and fear of rejection associated with avoidant personality disorder can make it extremely difficult for a person to function normally or productively in life. People with avoidant personality disorder often have trouble or may even be incapable of finding or holding down a job or building and maintaining interpersonal relationships.

People with avoidant personality disorder typically display the following signs and symptoms:

  • Obsession and preoccupation with their own shortcomings, whether real or imagined
  • Reluctance to become involved with other people
  • Lack of social skills
  • Shyness in social settings out of fear that they will do something wrong and be criticized
  • Aversion to activities and jobs that involve contact with others
  • Reluctance to disclose personal information within the context of interpersonal relationships, causing them to hold back and not achieve true intimacy
  • Tendency to exaggerate risks and potential problems

The National Center for Biotechnology Information estimates that approximately 1 percent of the population suffers from avoidant personality disorder.

How Avoidant Personality Disorder Can Contribute to Addiction

Without treatment, people with avoidant personality disorder are likely to live in extreme or near total isolation. They can become lonely, bored and depressed and are likely to turn to drugs and alcohol to “self-medicate” feelings of depression and inadequacy. While they may find relief temporarily, use of drugs will only compound depression and feelings of isolation in the long run. It is imperative that people suffering from avoidant personality disorder receive treatment for the condition and also for any co-occurring disorders, such as depression, substance abuse and addiction. With treatment, people with avoidant personality disorder can hope to learn to function in the world with assurance and self-confidence and can avoid the common consequences of the condition, such as depression and drug addiction.

Treating Avoidant Personality Disorder and Co-Occurring Addiction

Counseling is the most effective treatment for avoidant personality disorder. Therapy can help patients to identify and address any and all underlying issues that contributed to the condition. Therapy can also help patients learn skills needed for human interaction that will make them more self-assured in social situations.

A person suffering from avoidant personality disorder who also has co-occurring substance abuse and/or addiction issues should also receive addiction treatment. Treatment for addiction will include therapy for behavioral issues related to addiction, counseling to address any underlying psychological issues and medically supervised detox if the person is physically dependent on a drug that produces withdrawal symptoms when he or she quits using it.

If you would like help finding treatment for avoidant personality disorder and/or addiction or you simply have questions about avoidant personality disorder, addiction, treatment and recovery, please call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline today.